Wednesday, October 31, 2007



Light from my computer's monitor cuts the stygian darkness. Slowly a progress bar crept across the screen. 61% ... 62% ... 63%. Little did I know the horrors that awaited me upon completion of the download ... The horrors of VOO DOO!

Up from the graveyard of music video past that is YouTube rose VOO DOO! Watching the video seemed like a good idea at the time. I really like Rachel Sweet's voice. I knew her career suffered from pretty extreme mismanagement, but, I thought, how bad could it be?

I could scarcely have predicted the terror of VOO DOO!

SHIVER ... at the sight of an artist with a unique vocal talent being given material that in no way makes use of that talent!

SHUDDER ... at the "come hither" looks that come off as "Look out! I'm going to vomit!"

SHAKE WITH FEAR ... at the not-quite-a-sweatshirt, not-quite-a-night-dress outfit!

Seriously, check it out. See if you can resist the pull of evil from ... VOO DOO!


Little post for Halloween here, 'One Weekend Under A Groove' finale is coming next ....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

One Weekend Under A Groove: Speedround!

Many of these groups I didn't hear enough of to say much about. Others I simply didn't like enough to investigate further.


Jangly guitar pop. Not a female in sight. Another thing makes them somewhat different than many of the other groups I looked at - they're Americans.


I kept running across this band when looking at stuff about The Pipettes. Someplace even said "If you like the Go! Team you'll love the Pipettes." Apparently it's not transative.


Really nice vocals. Didn't really look at the band very in-depth though.


This really reminds me of something. I can't figure out what. Late 60s West Coast (SF) rock, but what? Like it though.


An entry in the nameless creepy/dreamy genre I spoke of last post.




Ditto again. But El Perro Del Mar is often described as being more like "traditional" girl group, so I guess I need to hear more.


This is really nice. Pretty straightforward girlpop.


The link I followed described it as bleak, which is pretty spot on. Vocals are more talking than singing, which is a little annoying, but that may be unique to this song.


Described as "indie-dance". I really liked "Oh Marie", not a big fan of the other Ladyfuzz I listened to.


Many of the groups I liked like Sleater-Kinney. I guess I just didn't hear the right stuff then. Should be right up my alley. They are considered Riot Grrrl deities. I didn't DISlike them, just ... I think I need to hear more.

Phew. Who woulda thunk it would take two weeks to mention two days' worth of listening? Only one group left. The winners (was this a competition?) You can figure out who they are from what I've said already. Or you can wait for the post.

That's what I'd do.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Test: Ignore This

This is only a test. Had this been a real post you would have been given further instructions about where to go and what to do when you got there.
Shangri-Las up there. Beauty. The long haired one is Mary Weiss.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One Weekend UnderA Groove: Always Coming Home

We should start at the beginning. In this case Brighton, in the UK.
Brighton has a pretty active music scene, a result of the fact (according to Becki Pipette) that the place is otherwise pretty drab and dull. An active music scene implies more artists call Brighton home than just the Pipettes (although do you really NEED more than the Pipettes?)



Bat For Lashes hails from Brighton (in case you thought I was non-sequitering again ...)

There is a genre that doesn't have a name that I know of. Typified by songs with an almost creepy, dreamlike atmosphere. Kate Bush is the patroness of the style. Julee Cruise is an adherent. As is Bat For Lashes.

I have to be in the right mood to enjoy this style, but when I am, I REALLY enjoy it. Great for just kicking back and letting go, trancelike.

I'd like to provide a better description, but this is music that demands to be experienced, not described.

An article in a paper in my hometown led to my discovering a band from Brighton. Looking at another group from Brighton - the Pipettes (duh) - led to my discovery of a band from my home town. Just follow the links. 'Influenced' and 'Influenced By'. Eventually you'll run across ...


In Studio at MPR

Hank Hill would call them "Got Dang Doo Wop Band". Minnesota Public Radio calls them "Gosh Darn Doo Wop Band". I'll just use "GDDWB" and let you fill in the rest.

What was surprising about GDDWB for me is that they are from my part of the world and I had not previously heard of them. I'm more out of the loop than I realized ...

GDDWB is the most 'retro' of the many 'retro' bands I listened to. Solid girl group material that could be from 1962. You won't find any 'post-modern' reinterpretations or any of that sorta thing. Just pop the way I like it. Give them a listen at the MPR link above.

Ya know, these little reviews are getting to be more work than they should be. I'm falling behind on other stuff I would like to talk about. But I still want to get through all the music I found that weekend. If only there were a quicker way ...

Monday, October 22, 2007

One Weekend Under A Groove: What Took So Long?

During 'One Weekend Under A Groove' I finally checked out a few artists I've known about since working for my previous employer - so that's over 3 years. I just got around to actually sampling their work. Like I said, sometimes things take me a while.



I stumbled across a mention of Holly Golightly following the "influenced .." links from ... I'm not sure where. With Golightly there are many possibilities. She borrows freely from many pre-Beatles genres - and a little post-British invasion too.

If Holly had been around for that event she would have been one of the invaders. See, she's British. I first learned about her from a very local source - one of my bosses at my previous job. He was a big Holly Golightly fan. For some reason I don't think I ever listened to the Holly Golightly CDs he would bring to work.

But now there is a pretty good chance I'll have my own Golightly CDs to listen to. I didn't listen to much of that artist that weekend, but enough to know I'm interested in hearing more.



When I stumbled across/rediscovered Holly Golightly it got me thinking about other groups folks I've worked with liked but I somewhat inexplicably never listened to.

One of my former coworkers was a fairly big fan of Rasputina. Many goth-types are. Not being a member of that teenage social club I figured there wasn't anything there of interest for me.

Boy howdy was I wrong. I finally got around to listening to Rasputina, and I like what I hear. Very much.

The first thing you'll notice about Rasputina is the quality of the vocalist's voice. Sweet - but not too sweet. Innocent - but not too innocent.

Next you notice the quality of the songwriting. The material often deals with obscure or unusual topics - Mutiny on the Bounty - starvation in Bolivia - that sort of thing.

Ah, who am I kidding. The first thing you'll notice is that THEY'RE PLAYING CELLOS. Yes, Rasputina is 2 cellists and a drummer. But firmly within the rock paradigm.


You know, Rasputina made me realize how cool cellos can sound in rock. I'm not talking ELO or Phil Spector strings, but as a central driving component of the piece. Kind of set me off on my next little quest - I figure the idea of a metal band based around orchestral strings (I'm not talking of a band known mostly for covers like Apocalyptica; I'm talking originals) is too cool for it to be new. It's out there - and I'm looking for it.

NEWS FLASH: There is a whole Wikipedia entry on what I'm thinking of.

Might be tiring, though. We've already been to New York, England, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland (OK not there yet). And to think we started in Brighton (England, home of the Pipettes)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

One Weekend Under A Groove: Hair

Yep, hair color is pretty important.

Not in any big cosmic sense. "Blondes have more fun" is a common little saying, but all you can really tell about a person from the color of their hair is uhhh ... the color of their hair.

Even given that, I generally see brunettes as more attractive than blondes. It probably has something to do wieh a broader human affinity for the exotic. I've lived my entire life in the upper midwest. We have a strong northern European heritage here. Natural blondes are fairly commen here. Heck, you can't walk down the street in Minneapolis without tripping over one.

This two-band overview is one of the only places you'll ever see me prefering blondes to brunettes.



Funny thing is, none of them are blonde.

Now, this is what I call music. Solid pop songwriting for a combo that leans more towards rock than pop. They have gotten attention for their stylish appearance probably even to a greater extent than for their music. Pity, that. This stuff delivers.

I have to give special attention to the song "Once and Never Again". Taking the form of advice from an older more experienced person ("You're only 19 for God's sake ..."), the song is a fitting antidote to some of the melodramatic excesses of our musical predecessors.


Sub Pop (their US label)

The Brunettes are Kiwis. No, not flightless birds. Nor green-fleshed fruit. (Kiwifruit enphasize what I said earlier about affinity for the exotic. Originally marketed under a different name, the fruit was a commercial flop until given the more exotic-sounding name "kiwi".)

No, what I mean is The Brunettes are from New Zealand.

With a name like "The Brunettes" I wanted to like this band much more than I did. There are some really nice touches in their music. I have a soft spot for alternating male and female lead vocals, a technique used to good effect here.

But, on the whole, they are just too saccharine for me. There is an almost cloying sweetness here. Nothing I would throw my radio out the window for (yeah, like The Brunettes get radio play in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul market :/ ). But also nothing I feel compelled to run out and buy.


This post is a good example of "yes, I do edit these things." It may seem I digress a lot. And I do. Way my brain works. But consider: in the above I spared everyone digressions on botany and rugby. Didn't notice? Then my editing worked, dinnit?

The Brunettes were an add-on to "One Weekend Under A Groove". See, I didn't actually listen to them the weekend in question. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get around to things.

Friday, October 19, 2007

One Weekend Under A Groove: Yee-haw!

Going back to the theme of stuff happening before I knew I cared, seems I missed a few more shows I may have gone to. Rasputina were in town this spring and The Brunettes a month ago. Both shows took place at the 400 Bar, which is a nice cozy venue. Not to mention within the last few weeks missing Gito Gito Hustler and Bat For Lashes.Heck, I wouldn't even know of those two if I hadn't seen ads for their respective shows after they happened. Again I say oops.

But I'm not always a day late and a dollar behind. Most of the artists I listened to during One Weekend Under A Groove were new to me. As was the next artist I want to talk about. The interesting thing here is that although she was new to me, I've had a couple of her songs for over 15 years.



You're probably wondering how I could have had Rachel Sweet material for 15+ years and just learned of her last week. Rachel did much of the voice work on the songs Amy Locane lip syncs to in the (horribly underrated) movie Cry-Baby. I taped that off HBO when it came on first-run so have had songs with Rachel Sweet vocals for a long time.

But until last weekend I didn't know that, so I still would say she is new to me.

When Rachel first became nationally known she was marketed with a jail-bait image, but what really is important is not post-adolescent male fantasies or her appearance, but her incredibly BIG voice. It has just a touch of Southern twang but is otherwise comparable to some of the Blues belters (I'm thinking Janis here ...)

Her first recordings were pretty much straight country. She had greater success when she added New Wave or whatever into the mix. But the country roots are still apparent on tracks such as "Wildwood Saloon" off Rachel's debut album Fool Around. The song is about drowning a broken heart in liquor, a tried and true country topic. Throw in a pickup and a bassett hound and you pretty much have a country music archetype. I don't usually go for ballads, but I really enjoyed this one. I do go for extreme emotions, and this tune literally drips despair. Gets me depressed just listening to it.

Also depressing, but not in a good way, is ...


Official Site
Discover Joanna Cotten

I watched this song on YouTube because the title suggests so much possibility. Will it sound like the chronologically and physiologically unlikely spawn of Eddie Cochran and George Clinton? Chuck Berry licks over Bootsy Collins bass lines?

How about listenable but fairly generic pop country.

We get the latter. Dissappointing, that. I really like the title ...

AND, I think Joanna might be a bottle blonde. I usually hold that against folks. See, hair color is pretty important ...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

One Weekend Under A Groove: I Must Cleanse Myself, Send In The Japanese Ladies!

I realize that title has ... inappropiate conotations. That is entirely on purpose. :)

The sheer amount of pop I listened to last weekend left me feeling in need of a good cleaning. Get the sugar off. Not that I don't like pop - I do. Very much. And I'm not talking Brittany Spears or American Idol junk. A lot of nods to the early 60s in what I was listening to - no big surprise, given that is pretty much my favorite musical time period I didn't actually experience first hand.

Love it though I do, it can leave me feeling like I need to roll around in the dirt a bit (picture a bird taking a dust bath). And what would be more suitable for rolling around in than a style called crust?


Official site

'Crust' or 'doom metal' - whatever you wanna call it, I'm a little outside my comfort zone here (not too far - I have other doom metal but pretty much avoid it) [originally I said 'crust' here, but that is more a statement about cleanliness vis-a-vis my underwear, so 'doom metal' it is.] Reviewing this album as part of One Weekend Under A Groove is a bit of a cheat. I've actually had this album for a few weeks, but just got around to listening to it this weekend.
On the whole, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The standard 'doom metal' plodding is replaced by more sonically varied plodding. This makes it a little hard to review. I'd like to say "this is the sort of thing you'll like if you like this sort of thing", but it might actually be TOO musically interesting for some folks who ... enjoy ... the ... plod.
One really enjoyable track on this release the drummer trades vocals with the band's usual vocalist. The primary vocalist uses an 'extreme metal' gargle-with-draino style (which sounds interesting coming from a Japanese female), while the drummer's style is more of the high-pitched squeek you are used to from Japanese female vocalists. So the track alternates between a low rumbling 'uhhuhhuhh' and a just-sucked-helium 'eeep eeep eeep'. (There are actual lyrics, but 1: they are in Japanese, and 2: this style isn't known for clarity of diction anyway.)

Gallhammer left me feeling a need for something a little lighter. How about blending pop songwriting with a grungier style? But I would hate to abandon the theme of all-female Japanese bands ...

So I won't.


Official Site

So, you may wonder, why am I reviewing a single song? I knew I wanted to talk about this band, but neither I nor anyone I know have any Gito Gito Hustler material. So I did the obvious and trolled the net for some. At some point, by the looks of it quite recently, somebody made the rounds and asked everyone who had GGH mp3s posted to remove them. Discussing the music industry's apparent desire to slit its own throat really is the topic for another day.

So, I'd like to provide useful information about this band, but it is difficult given that I've only actually heard the one song. But the song I listened to ("Maybe Love") was good. GGH is often described as pop-punk, but they are more punk (or garagey) than pop. Even though I feel somewhat stymied in my efforts to hear the band, I think I've heard and read enough to put Gito Gito Hustler on my "buy it but don't necessarily spend too much energy finding it" list.

As long as I'm talking all-female Japanese pop-punk, I MUST mention Shonen Knife. This post is already getting longer than I like, though, so just hold that thought.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It Ain't Easy

Today (oct 15 2007) is Blog Action Day. The theme this year is environmentalism. Hey, I think. as a (somewhat) old lefty who has been involved in environmental issues for years I might have something to contribute ...

One positive side effect of being a little older (and I stress a little - I'm only 37 fergoshsakes) is that I have some experience in stuff to draw upon.

You're probably asking how something titled "It Ain't Easy" could possibly be empowering, or even useful in a positive sense.

If I don't say it someone else is going to. Oh boy are they going to. Advocate for any social issue and folks come out of the woodwork to 'help' you by pointing out any percieved inconsistancy or the futility of baby steps.

The 'help' I get most (too) often is a seemingly deep concern with my shoes. See, I avoid leather. Don't buy it. Don't wear it. When this comes up (I rarely bring it up but don't run from the topic) almost invariably folks say "but your shoes are made of leather."

Umm, no. Not in 17 or so years. These are man-made materials.

"Then those are made of petroleum products! That is inconsistant with living green ..."

These folks must be wearing shoes made of leather from magic cows that consume no resources, do no damage to riparian ecosystems when grazed en mass, and so on.

I think this. Don't say it. My 'magic cows' rant is personally satisfying,but not very useful in real life discussion. You want to educate, to motivate, to explain in such situations, not denigrate the person who has just volunteered to step into the line of fire. Being witty and effectvely discussing the issues are sometimes incompatible.

But the issues here are environmental issues, not shoes.

Although changing the shoes one buys is a nicely effective baby step towards reducing demand for products from intensive animal agriculture - one of the largest human activities with often negative environmental effects.

Would it 'save the earth'? Of course not. I'm not gonna lie to you.

But sometimes doing the little things, acknowledgeing that they AREN'T the big changes, and striving towards those larger things rather than patting ourselves on the back and stopping after a few baby steps is a good thing.

Because, you know that big step?

It ain't easy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

One Weekend Under A Groove: Intro

I've been meaning to getting around to talking about what I did LAST weekend, but another one has come around and I want to mention THIS one before it becomes irrelevant. Plus I need to set up something.

I fully intended to use this weekend to bring myself in to this century, music wise. I did quite abitof surfing and downloading Saturday. not so much today (Sunday) but I'm still putting other things I might be messing with on hold while I scratch this itch.

I've listened to more recent music yesterday and today than in a long while.

So in the interest of educating my gentle readership I'm going to post actual reviews. This'll be fun. For me anyway.

Tentative listof bands to be covered:

Afternoon Naps
Bat For Lashes
Camera Obscura
Joanna Cotten
Dear Euphoria
G.D. Doo-Wop Band
Gito Gito Hustler
The Go! Team
Holly Golightly
Gore Gore Girls
Long Blondes
Noonday Underground
The School
Rachel Sweet

You may notice these are largely UK bands. It happens. Not on purpose.

Also, only TWO of these groups have primarily male vocals, at least in the songs I listened to. Hey, I knows what I likes.

And thirdly, only one artist not active in the 2000s+, with another two more closely associated with the 90s. I'm finally entering the 21st century. :)

Mostly pop up there. Makes me feel a little unclean ...

But tomorrow is blog action day, so we'll have to wait on that.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Missed It By That Much

Our first catch of the day.

First gratuitous pop culture reference anyway.

The title of this entry is pretty much an accurate descrition of what happened. I missed it by *THAT* much.

It feels a lot like I imagine Luke felt in Star Wars after this exchange:

Ben: Those are Imperial blast points [on that jawa sandcrawler]. Only stormtroopers shoot with that precision. They must be looking for your droids and tracked them to these jawas.

Luke: Which means they would have been led ... home.

[Very paraphrased. Hey, I sort of eat and breathe this stuff, not (usually) memorize it.]

I was surfing around the net, idly looking for live Pipettes mp3s and such. I found mention of a studio appearance they had done on The Current (Minnesota Public Radio's rock/pop station).

Cool, I thought. A Pipettes in-studio from a radio station in my part of the world. Then like Luke realizing what those blast points implied it hit me.

My part of the world.
The Pipettes.
That means they were ...

And indeed they were. They did a show at the 7th Street Entry (you've seen Purple Rain? The Entry is basically a broom closet in the club in that movie) back a few months ago.

Putting it before I would have cared.

Missed it by *THAT* much.

Monday, October 8, 2007

It's Symbolic, I Guess

I mentioned earlier that I picked up We Are The Pipettes pretty much on release day (OK, day after). Probably won't surprise anyone that there is more to the story than "Hey, Dave bought a CD".

There are a few angles in the whole event that I can spin into a blog post. I've pretty much been beating into the ground WHAT was purchased and WHY. I'll continue to do that. Trust me :)

But there is a bigger aspect here. What I didn't buy.

I'm sort of continually financially strapped.. That hasn't changed. I had this gift card I won at work a few months ago and used part of that. There was only half of the original value left, since I had used it back then to pay for one of my once semi-weekly runs to the comic store.

I had fully intended to exhaust the card with another comics run. When I'm hitting on all cylinders I can easily blow through $150/month just picking up new issues.

But then I got smacked with a shovel. Everything with transportation and such really kicked me into survival mode. I pretty much abandoned things like comics. Things that were a pretty big part of my life.

Well, I survived. But didn't neccesarily go back to the way things were before my trial by fire.

Long ago (relative time) on this blog I 'fessed up that music was really my first passion. It's back - big time. I'm more like I was before college, in the 80s-early 90s, when exploring the music I love - and exploring new music - was foremost.

It's not a regression - Regress No Way! - so much as a reshuffling.

Of course this 'rediscovery' has been helped immensly by the fact that We Are The Pipettes is the best NEW album I've heard in many a year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I Get It

I was watching some MMA the other day, and one guy had a chinlock on his oppenent and was (I guess) trying to work into some kind of submission hold. The commentator said "what he should do is hit [the other guy] on the side under the armpit." Why should he do that, I wondered?

Well, I found out.

The next day I was getting out of bed and fell on a box, hitting myself on pretty much that exact spot. Winded me for 2-3 minutes, hurt like the dickens, and I still can't cough or sneeze without experiencing spasms of pain in the area.

So if you get in a barfight or something, I highly recommend the upper side as a target.

Other things I've gotten recently in addition to an understanding of why the upper side is a good target:

We Are The Pipettes US release

First full-length from this group released in the US. About a year after coming out in the UK, and it really should have been released earlier, but at least its out now. Lesson for the RIAA here: I have 13 of the 14 tracks here in one form or another already. Didn't stop me from SCHEDULING VACATION so I could pick up this disc on release day. Track-by-track review later.

Hey, I didn't put a link there.